Cloud Computing for SMEs
Cloud computing can, at first glance, appear to be the sort of strategy that only suits larger organisations. The sort of technologies that are expensive to implement and only yield benefits for businesses with large, legacy IT systems.
The reality is somewhat different. If anything, the flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness that are the hallmarks of Cloud Computing are ideally suited to smaller businesses.
What is Cloud Computing?
It may be useful to establish a little background about what Cloud Computing really is. First of all, the Cloud is not a place. It is a way of doing things. The easiest way to describe it is in terms of its five key characteristics:
1. Available on-demand, self-service – which means you can quickly scope, configure and access your IT resource without needing to engage directly with your service provider.
2. Accessible via the Internet – you can access your business critical data, applications and computing power from any connected device, including mobile.
3. Pooled resource – your service provider manages all the physical infrastructure elements (servers, storage, security and networking components) within a datacentre and allocates resources to customers according to their specific demands.
4. Scalability – as your IT demands change, the self-service and shared resource nature of the Cloud means you can rapidly scale your service provision up and down to suit your current needs.
5. Utility-based pricing – as a measured service, your resource is effectively metered and reported back to you, so you only pay for what you use.
Start as you mean to go on
For start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses, keeping the costs of doing business to a minimum can mean the difference between success and failure. You don’t want to be spending vast sums of your precious capital on an IT infrastructure, rather than on strategic projects that could be helping to grow your business.
At the same time, technology is a significant business enabler; allowing you to establish a virtual office and providing access to business-critical voice and IT applications. Opting for a Cloud infrastructure from the start means you eliminate the need for costly, up-front expenditure on servers, storage and software licences; freeing essential capital for business growth.
Managing growth in a sustainable manner is a common problem for smaller businesses. As workloads increase there is a need to scale operations rapidly to maintain service levels whilst keeping a close eye on the balance sheet.
The flexible nature of Cloud computing means you can instantly scale your computing resource to match your changing needs. This means your IT is always “right-sized” and doesn’t result in costly over-resourcing or a lack of service availability when you need it most.
As businesses expand they often feature multiple office locations or remote workers. Supply chains become more complex as stakeholders within partner, supplier and customer organisations all become a part of the broader communications infrastructure.
Utilising a virtualised Cloud infrastructure, and being able to deliver business-critical data and applications to remote or mobile workers, allows you to take advantage of a range of cost-saving strategies like home-working, mobility, collaboration and BYOD.
If you’d like to discover more about the Cloud, Download our free guide to Cloud Computing